A group of members from Lea Bailey Light Railway Society travelled up to the Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railways event Quirks & Curiosities II on the weekend of 28th April – 1st May. Our resident Eimco 401 “Whistling Pig” and “Issing Sid” from Statfold Barn Railway were in operation in Minffordd yard throughout the event. Following the Eimco’s return to Lea Bailey it was joined by Sid for our Spring Open Weekend on 13th-14th May.
Planning is under way for the next Open Day which will take place on 13th & 14th May 2017. We will be welcoming “Issing Sid” from Statfold Barn Railway for a return visit after our popular Running on Air event in 2015.
Amongst the residents that we hope to have running will be the Eimco 401 compressed-air locomotive, Wingrove & Rogers WR8 battery-electric locomotive, and the Eimco 401 rocker shovel which will be operating on its own special display line with a public viewing area. For a taste of what is to come, see Rob Dickinson’s YouTube video from our 2015 event.
Several other events and attractions can be found around the Forest of Dean, all within a half-hour drive of our site at Lea Bailey. A number of links can be found below.
The Lea Bailey Light Railway Society has been invited to exhibit the Eimco 401 air locomotive at the Ffestiniog Railway for their Quirks & Curiosities II event in 2017. The first event took place back in May 2010 and a number of the more unusal types of narrow gauge locomotives and rolling stock were assembled in the yard at Porthmadog Harbour station. The event will take place over the weekend of 28th April to 1st May 2017.
One of the more unusual vehicles was a sail-powered rail car known as “Spooner’s Boat”, but we believe the Eimco will be the first compressed-air locomotive to run on the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways. The previous event also featured a Model T Ford and Series 2a Land Rover 109″ pickup, both from Statfold Barn Railway. Obviously a compressor will need to be provided on site to recharge the Eimco’s main air reservoir, but one interesting way of providing the air could be to couple up to the air braking system of one of the larger diesel locomotives. Any current or new members interested in coming up for the weekend please contact the Webmaster.
We will be holding our second Open Weekend of 2016 on 17th & 18th September at our Lea Bailey site. The main attraction is expected to be the first public running of our Eimco 401 air locomotive which is on loan to us for two years. Also running will be our Simplex diesel and WR8 battery electric locomotives, plus a visiting Lister rail truck. Three further locomotives in various states of restoration will be on display, plus we aim to give demonstrations of our Eimco rocker shovel.
New for this event is our Driver for a Fiver: donate £5 (or more if you wish) and you will receive practical instruction to operate one of our locomotives. This includes complimentary membership of the Lea Bailey Light Railway Society until the end of the year.
Open from 11:00 to 16:00 with refreshments and sales stand available on site. Not been before? Here’s how to find us.
Other nearby attractions include the Steam Up at the works of Alan Keef just up the road at Lea Line. Locomotives and rolling stock are built and maintained here for use around the world including Lydia for the nearby Perrygrove Railway near Coleford which will be hosting its 20th Anniversary Gala with 5 steam locomotives running.
As part of the Open Weekend of 14th-15th May, volunteers from the Lea Bailey Light Railway Society went to Clearwell Caves to service and run the Hunslet Flameproof locomotive No. 7446 and to take a look at some of the other rolling stock stored outside. Despite having not run since last year, the locomotive started on the first attempt, and performed several demonstration runs for visitors, much to the enjoyment of the café staff who had come to empty the bins.
Another job which was started was to cut back some of the hawthorn, brambles, and other assorted undergrowth on the elevated siding at the top of the incline to allow the rolling stock stored there to be moved for the first time for many years. We hope to be able to do a little bit of cosmetic restoration to prevent these items from deteriorating, with the eventual aim of a proper restoration in the long term, although some of the items may end up as static exhibits.
Of immediate interest however, is a compressor mounted on a 4-wheel bogie, which despite being outside for some time, has already been made to turn over freely. An end-tipper wagon will be very useful for track work here and at Lea Bailey, with an initial inspection showing that it will only need minimal repairs to some corroded platework. Of course more cutting-back will be required before these vehicles can be retrieved.
The single-bladed point leading to the siding had been heavily overgrown with grass and other greenery and a thin layer of turf had to be removed from the top of the rails. The resident artist-blacksmith MissFire was in the process of loading equipment into a large van as part of her move to larger premises, and so our work on this part of the track took place in between trips from the workshop to the van using a small 4-wheeled wagon.
Once the point was free to move — a process that also involved the removal of a surplus dog-spike — the Hunslet was summoned to push the W227 up the incline and onto the siding. Because this set of points is notorious for derailments, particularly of the WR5 locomotive, the final few yards was done by hand using crow bars and pieces of angle-iron as levers, and a not inconsiderable amount of brute force. The W227 is now clear of the running line and perhaps the sunshine will allow a coat of red oxide to be applied to protect it from the less pleasant weather that is sure to return soon enough?